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Title: The Soviet nationalities policies and their contribution to conflicts: law, legacies and ideology

Authors: Benedikt C. Harzl

Addresses: Russian East European Eurasian Studies Centre (REEES), University of Graz, Universitätsstr. 15/KIII, A-8010, Graz, Austria

Abstract: This paper examines the impact of the Soviet nationalities policies and its legal instruments on the territorial conflicts along the ethno-federal lines of the former USSR. By looking at selected examples in the South Caucasus, this work considers, in particular, how the Soviet ideology of ethnic federalism fuelled conflicts within the federal units of the USSR. It is argued that the installation of proto-elements of statehood and the promotion of national consciousness within the USSR - which were at the core of Soviet nationality policies - created the structural conditions, which resulted in the outbreak of conflicts across the USSR after 1989. The paper contemplates, further, that the concept of ethnic federalism remains the most haunting legacy of the Soviet ethnopolitics: Rather than vanishing with the demise of the USSR, it continues to shape political decision-making in the South Caucasus.

Keywords: Abkhazia; autonomy; ethnopolitics; ethnoterritoriality; federalism; law; Nagorno-Karabakh; nationalism; South Caucasus; Soviet Union; Transnistria.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFIP.2019.098375

International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, 2019 Vol.14 No.1, pp.50 - 64

Received: 28 Dec 2017
Accepted: 30 Jun 2018

Published online: 12 Mar 2019 *

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